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Zootopia #FilmReview ‘a clever, funny and inventive original’
June 29, 2017, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Film Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Zootopia (2016)
Animated/Adventure/Family, Rated PG, 108 Minutes.
Featuring Voices of: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba.
Now available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Zootopia Flash Image

Review
Zootopia takes us to an alternate universe devoid of humans, one where the animals have evolved to a point that all creatures great and small have become ‘civilised’. They started farming, they built cities, built trains, cars and most importantly became vegetarian. Yes that’s right, In Zootopia predator and prey get along in perfect harmony until one day…

Enter into this universe young Judy Hops a bunny with big dreams of becoming a cop in the big city metropolis, much to the horror of her parents. Following her intensive boot camp style training where Judy is constantly reminded that she is never going to make the grade she does the unexpected, or if you look at the poster, the expected, and becomes the first bunny cop in the Zootopia Police Department the ZPD.

Treated by the ZPD as the token bunny, Judy, is assigned to parking duty while the rest of the department attempt to solve a case involving 14 missing persons. Unfulfilled by her ticket inspector duties, Judy manages to quickly work her way into the case with the help of a reluctant fox, Nick Wilde, her only lead on the latest missing person, Emmett Otterton, the otter.

From here we delve into the underbelly of Zootopia as Nick and Judy discover more about the case in 48hrs than the rest of the ZPD could uncover in two weeks. With a great plot that works on many levels, Zootopia, as a mystery crime thriller works really well. It will keep young and old alike guessing what has become of these missing persons, and what are the night howlers? Despite being a kids animation some elements and situations may be a little scary for young kids, there’s even a moment that will have the big kids jumping out of their chairs. To lighten the tone there’s a great collection of characters Judy and Nick bump into throughout there investigation. The highlight being a sloth named Flash, who has one of the funniest moments in the film. The film also has several nods to other great crime stories, like the Godfather and Breaking Bad, the kids won’t get them but they make a fun addition for everyone else.

Despite its many great characteristics, Zootopia’s foundations seem a little wonky tho. Mainly the theme of predators and prey living together as vegetarians doesn’t sit quite right. Especially when the majority of the food you see on screen is either doughnuts, ice blocks, ice cream or a shrivelled single serve microwaveable carrot. On the whole not very healthy choices for the animals utopia. But maybe that’s a comment on our human existence.

The film also tackles racism and the unconscious biases that can often bubble to the surface when a society is put under pressure. This being highlighted as we discover predators are randomly going ‘savage’ and attacking prey, which appears to be highlighting quite a heavy issue of our time. Not something you would initially imagine you are going to find wrapped up in a cute kids animation. Zootopia isn’t just a cute animation tho. It’s a clever, funny and inventive original that not only will entertain young and old alike, it also has a great message – ‘Get along people!’ – and that can’t be a bad thing.

Rating ★★★★ out of ★★★★★

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High-Rise #FilmReview ‘the director runs wild along with the residents’
May 11, 2017, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Film Reviews | Tags: , , ,

High-Rise (2015)
Drama, Rated MA15+, 119 Minutes.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller
Now available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.

HighRisePaint

Review
J. G. Ballard’s Novel High-Rise has been a passion project for producer Jeremy Thomas since its release in 1975. Purchasing the rights to what many claimed was an unfilmable novel Thomas would finally see his dream become reality forty years later.

Director Ben Wheatley (Free Fire, A Field In England and Sightseers) finally commits this disturbing dystopian vision of the past – the 70’s – to the big screen. Was it unfilmable? No. Did it make a whole lot of sense? No. Not that there is a lot to get your head around, the story is a straight up parable that constantly slaps you across the face to make sure you’re following. That’s right, poor people on the floors below, rich people up top and even a man on the top floor all dressed in white called the architect – sigh.

This is not to say the same subject matter can’t be entertaining. Director Bong Joon-Ho masterfully pulled off an almost identical plot with the film Snowpiercer released two years prior. With the director creating an inventive, thrilling, and – most importantly – highly watchable and re-watchable film. High-Rise is hard going, mainly for it’s violence towards its female characters and live-in pets.

In fact I had to tackle this film in two goes. The only reason I came back was the brilliant soundtrack from Clint Mansell who managed to add a stylish 70’s styled score. As well as the breathtaking cinematography from Laurie Rose, a regular collaborator with Wheatley.

If ultra-violence is your thing, you’ve come to the right address, but if you would like something else in your abode, like plot or narrative structure this isn’t the building for you. And speaking of ultra violence the poster draws an uncanny resemblance to the Kubrick classic ‘Clockwork Orange’, a film that was obviously a massive influence on the production.

At 2hrs long it feels like the director runs wild along with the residents and completely forgets the people on the ground floor – the audience.

Rating ★★      out of ★★★★★

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The Secret Life Of Pets #FilmReview ‘one of those great ideas that has to work’
April 28, 2017, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Film Reviews | Tags: , ,

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Animated/Adventure/Family, Rated G, 91 Minutes.
Featuring Voices of: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart

Synopsis
The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. Now available to hire for mobile cinema screenings.

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Review:
The latest film from ‘Illumination’, the studio that gave us Minions and the Despicable Me movies is ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’. An idea that I am surprised hadn’t been explored before. It’s the idea that our pets lead adventurous lives we couldn’t even comprehend the moment we leave them at home. Unlike comic book movies or the ever-growing number of re-boot’s that use their existing audience to bolster their box office. ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’ is a totally original idea that still manages to have an audience – pet lovers. Anyone who has a pet is going to want to see this film and the box office results indicate there are a lot of pet lovers out there with it becoming the fifth biggest original hit of all time. Money aside the idea at the core of the film had the potential to be the next Toy Story, it’s just one of those great ideas that has to work.

The opening scenes show us the bond between a little terrier named Max with his owner, told from the perspective of Max. Unfortunately for Max his owner picks up a stray named Duke and his world is upended. This sets some fun scenes in motion, with Max taking revenge by trying to get Duke kicked out by generally making a mess and wrecking the house. Something I imagine all pet owners can relate too.

The little quirks of pets aren’t ignored, like cats loving boxes and chasing lights. I especially love Leonard the heavy metal loving poodle. It’s these moments that make the film and connect with the owners of real life pets. However the script aims for something much grander and sets off toward epic adventure, including a gang of sewer dwelling ‘flushed’ pets. It’s here that the film seems to run off the rails, although I did love the tattooed pig with the butcher’s meat cut lines marked out.

I think the films strengths come from it being set in the realms of reality. Not having bunnies smashing a truck through the city. I think the scriptwriters would have benefited more from watching endless funny pet video’s on YouTube as their research, instead of bingeing the Fast and Furious 1-8.

That being said the car chases were extremely well done and great fun, but really out of place. And speaking of out of place a scene with a sausage factory was just bizarre. Also a fight scene near the end of the film featuring a white puff-ball of a dog called Gidget taking on the baddies was unexpected but very cool.

I think on the whole the film suffers from trying to be an epic adventure. If it just dialled back the scale and focused on a smaller, more believable story, filled with great pet quirks and fewer characters you may have had something as great as Toy Story. Instead you end up with a fun and enjoyable film that lacks any emotion or substance.

Rating ★★★½ out of ★★★★★

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The Jungle Book #FilmReview ‘a visually spectacular, tonally psychotic, family film that will have little kids screaming’
April 16, 2017, 12:10 pm
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The Jungle Book (2016)
Adventure/Drama/Family, Rated PG, 106 Minutes.
Starring: Neel Sethi Featuring Voices of: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley

Synopsis:
After a threat from the tiger, SherKhan, forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub, named Mowgli, embarks on a journey of self discovery with the aid of the panther, Bagheera, and the free spirited bear, Baloo. Available 17 November 2016

Jungle Book 2016 Review

Review:
It’s easy to see why they decided to make a live action remake of ‘The Jungle Book’. With computer animation as good as it is today it’s a perfect opportunity for Disney to dust off a few classics and give them an update for a few extra bucks. There’s a whole new generation that have probably never seen the animated Disney musical from 1967 and they most definitely haven’t seen the less popular 1942 live action version. Giving director Jon Favreau the perfect opportunity to re-imagine this classic Rudyard Kipling story and create something we haven’t seen before in a Jungle Book film.

I’ve always had issues with accepting talking animals in films, but the animation here is so precise that it lures you in to the point where you almost forget. That is until you realise you are listening to highly recognisable Hollywood actors, and your mind veers off imagining them laying down their dialogue in a sound proof booth pulling crazy faces. They almost pull it off and I think if they went for less recognisable voices it might have been to the benefit of the film. The one exception is Idris Elba voicing the tiger Shere Khan, never before has a talking animal been so believable, the voice casting here could almost have me believe tigers can really talk. Shere Khan is so threatening and scary in this film he left many little kids crying and being taken home by their parents, who were probably a little surprised at how dark this film is given its PG rating. Sure there’s no blood and gore and definitely no sex, but there is death and many gritty action sequences are filmed with a mud splash on the lens approach that would probably be more at home in a war movie – the stampede scene in particular was breathtaking.

Given this new gritty stylistic approach I found it really weird that they decided to retain three of the songs from the animated musical, all of which sat very awkwardly in this new environment. For the most part they didn’t even sing the songs properly, they were more like an obligatory nod to the original. Strangely director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) wanted to retain much of the music but wanted to avoid it becoming a musical. Coming from someone who’s favourite musical is the ‘Blues Brothers’ and most hated ‘The Sound Of Music’ , I surprised myself with the concept that it actually needed to fully embrace the musical or not at all. Obviously with such loved material Favreau tends to tread the middle road, providing soulless versions of some songs from the 1967 animated version. The exception being a rendition of ‘The Bare Necessities’ by Dr. John that makes it worth sitting through the end credits.

The end product – yes product – is a visually spectacular, tonally psychotic, family film that will have little kids screaming and parents feet tapping along to some old tunes from their childhood.

After screening all three Jungle Book features I would recommend the animated musical from 1967. As I mentioned I don’t like most traditional musicals, but the swing jazz and comedy of this original makes it one of the true Disney greats that never needed updating. But that’s too bad because, director Jon Favreu has announced he will be following up his 2016 version with a sequel, And Andy Serkis will also direct another all star cast in his version expected in 2018.

Rating ★★★½ out of ★★★★★



The Witch (MA15+) ★★★★ Now available for mobile cinema events #ReleaseOfTheWeek

Release Of The Week!The Witch
2015, Horror/Mystery, Rated MA15+, 93 Minutes.
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. Available 14 July – Outdoor from 14 September 2016 (TBC)

'The Witch illustrates itself as a tense, deeply atmospheric crawl. It Old English representation is some of the best I've ever seen and really sets the stage for the forthcoming tale - one that is dismal, dreary, and genuinely creepy. Although slow to start, it's not difficult for one to be quickly and fully immersed in such an otherworldly environment.' -  To read the full ★★★★ review by Lyzette on Letterboxd click on the poster above

‘The Witch illustrates itself as a tense, deeply atmospheric crawl. It Old English representation is some of the best I’ve ever seen and really sets the stage for the forthcoming tale – one that is dismal, dreary, and genuinely creepy. Although slow to start, it’s not difficult for one to be quickly and fully immersed in such an otherworldly environment.’ – To read the full ★★★★ review by Lyzette on Letterboxd click on the poster above



10 Cloverfield Lane (M) ★★★★ Now available for mobile cinema events #ReleaseOfTheWeek

Release Of The Week! 10 Cloverfield Lane
2016,Drama/Horror/Mystery, Rated M, 103 Minutes.
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack. Available 7 July – Outdoor from 7 September 2016 (TBC)

'Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane is better than any film producer J.J. Abrams has made, and it's only his first feature film. I know that's a bold statement, but it's true. I knew the man was talented after seeing his short Portal: No Escape, but this is an entirely different beast (pun most certainly intended). A film that's absolutely nerve-wrackng and full of fantastic performances, Trachtenberg's film elicits a tone and style one would find if you mixed Hitchcock with Ridley Scott's Alien.' – To read the full ★★★★ review by Austin Gorski on Letterboxd click on the poster above

‘Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane is better than any film producer J.J. Abrams has made, and it’s only his first feature film. I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s true. I knew the man was talented after seeing his short Portal: No Escape, but this is an entirely different beast (pun most certainly intended). A film that’s absolutely nerve-wrackng and full of fantastic performances, Trachtenberg’s film elicits a tone and style one would find if you mixed Hitchcock with Ridley Scott’s Alien.’ – To read the full ★★★★ review by Austin Gorski on Letterboxd click on the poster above



★★★1/2 Star review of Cargo (2009)

cargo05
★★★1/2 Star review of Cargo (2009)
Science Fiction, Drama, Thriller. Rated M, 112 Minutes.
Starring: Anna-Katharina Schwabroh, Martin Rapold, Regula Grauwiller

Synopsis:
The future is dead. During an ecological collapse the world has evolved into nothing but a decaying mass of pollution. A truly terrifying sci-fi masterpiece, CARGO’s claustrophobic atmosphere and haunting climax have made it one of the most talked about releases of the year. A thrilling and intense dystopian nightmare that sets the controls to the heart of fear.

Review:
The more realistic you make a movie set in space the more boring it’s going to be. Messages take years to get to their receivers, it takes so long to get anywhere that you have to freeze yourself to avoid being bored to death. It’s dark, it’s cold and it’s lonely, I guess that’s why most movies set in space are so unrealistic. Cargo captures these ‘realistic’ elements of space and mixes in a little suspense, creating an ‘old dark house’ with things that go bump in the night.

The special effects are quite variable, going from being visually stunning to occasionally looking cheap. The spaceship designs aren’t highly original but are beautifully designed and warrant the slow lingering shots that show what’s going on. I did love the fact that they made everything so cold, it’s an obvious choice considering the dystopian setting and the fact that it must be bugger to heat a giant spaceship.

This realism combined with a slow burn plot make for an enjoyable and atmospheric drama that borrows heavily from thrillers and noticeably the first Alien movie. However, If you are in for big scares, horror and excitement this definitely isn’t the film for you. This film is more for those who like watching scared people stumbling around inside a dark spaceship trying to uncover the mystery that surrounds the ships cargo.

Review out of five stars: ★★★1/2 Stars.
See my review on Letterboxd

‘Cargo’ is currently available for Road Movie Mobile Cinema events.
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